November might mark the start of the cooler weather, and high season, across the GCC, but it’s also a great time to get away. Escape the influx of tourists to the region by heading to these interesting, and in-season, destinations. Here’s where to travel in November from the Middle East.
Where to stay: Amanjena
Weather: Hights of 23°C, lows of 11°C
Flight time from UAE: 8 hours 15 minutes (to Casablanca)
Following its devastating earthquake in September, tourism has been playing a vital role in Morocco’s relief effort, not only drawing attention to their plight and the world what needs to be done, but providing economic support and maintaining local jobs. One of Marrakech’s most enchantingly beautiful hotels, Amanjena is hoping to welcome the international community -on which so many livelihoods depend – to its ornate palatial resort on the outskirts of the UNESCO-protected city. Surrounded by palm and olive trees, the terracotta pink hotel is absolutely dreamy, and this month, it unveiled its newly-refreshed Pavilion Piscine – adding to its collection of private pool Pavilions and Maisons. Existing one-bedroom pavilions have undergone an extensive renovation with the introduction of heated swimming pools – perfect for mild November days – and pillared gazebos for lounging.
The property has also introduced a host of new experiences to bring guests closer to the Moroccan people and its rich hospitality and traditions. Guests can experience the warm hospitality of the Brahim family in their Moroccan home over a homecooked Berber meal. The experience begins with a walking tour through L’Arbaa Tighdouine, a hidden village in the Atlas Mountains surrounded by lush landscapes before guests are invited into their traditional Berber home. All proceeds from the experience go directly to the Brahim family, helping to support their loved ones and neighbours who the recent earthquake has impacted.
What’s more, Amanjena is luring guests with the promise of more time, with a complimentary night’s stay for all bookings over three nights or more from 31 March 2024. The property is also offering a three-night wellness retreat with traditional holistic treatments, including Moroccan hammams, and a three-night golf retreat. Backing onto Amelkis Golf Course with the Royal and the Assoufid nearby, keen golfers will be able to have a daily green fee waives, return transfers to the golf courses and spa treatments.
The Karoo, South Africa
Weather: Highs of 19°C, lows of 10°C
Flight time: 9 hours 40 minutes (to Cape Town)
Many travellers might not be familiar with the Karoo, the vast semi-arid region stretching across South Africa. Covering an area of 500,000 square metres, about the size of Germany, it exists in a unique state, encompassing desert, but charming villages, wine routes and valleys with rock formations and ancient fossils. Away from the bustle of Cape Town and the lush plains of the Kruger National Park, the Karoo poses as an alternative South African escape – one of peace, nature, exploration, history and heritage with historic farms, 9,000 plant species, and spot ostriches and other wildlife. November marks the start of summer in this region, and as a result, the weather is mild and beautiful. The Klein Karoo Wine Route is also regarded as one of the most diverse in the country – stretching along a road known as Route 62 from Montagu in the west to Langkloof in the east. In fact, while living in the shadows of the Cape Winelands, The Klein Karoo is the longest wine route in the Western Cape, home to 69 wine farms and 11 brandy cellars.
Where to stay
While the Karoo has plenty of guest houses and hotels, the country’s most chic private rental company is now listing a charming heritage cottage – and it’s ideal for an adventurous family or romantic escape this season. Whitewashed Helen House (from just AED725 a night) has high ceilings, wooden floors, a soulfully stylish colour palette, garden with a private pool, sun terraces with countryside views, and, being on Art House Collection’s books – a thoughtfully curated collection of local artwork and exquisite antique pieces such as a bronze rooster by Guy du Toit and works by Diane Victor, Anthony Steward, Endale Desalegn, William Kentridge, Simon Attwood, and Sam Hlengethwa.
Temperature: 31ºC high, 24ºC low
Flight time from UAE: 3 hours 40 minutes
November is an exciting season in Kerala – Southern India’s luscious, tropical state, marking the start of the dry season and end of the monsoons. Kerala often lives in the shadows of neighbouring Goa, but while Goa is more developed, well-known and better for partygoers, Kerala is more peaceful, stripped back, rustic and raw. This beautiful, chilled-out state is carpeted in jungles and lush tea plantations, has wild, untrammelled beaches, charming colonial towns and backwaters perfect for exploring by boat – in fact, this is one of the most popular and best ways to explore Kerala.
Where to stay
Truly immerse yourself in Kerala life by booking onto a houseboat and exploring its enchanting backwaters – OG boutique hotel Malabar House offers a rental on Lake Vembanad – or book into one of the state’s many stunning, and extremely affordable, Airbnbs. Those after the comfort blanket of a luxury hotel should book into Taj Bekal Resort & Spa, Kerala – a five-star offering with houseboat-style rooms, a beach location and traditional Ayurvedic treatments.
Weather: Highs of 29°C, lows of 20°C
Flight time from UAE: 6 hours 35 minutes
Cast adrift of the east coast of Madagascar lies one of the most scenically beautiful and culturally Indian Ocean islands – Mauritius. The archipelago is best known for its stunning natural landscapes – mountainous interiors with national parks, rainforests and waterfalls and wildlife like flying foxes. Steeped in colourful history, beginning with Arabs and Malays and followed by Europeans – notably Netherlands, France and Great Britain – Mautiruis is a true melting pot of cultures, with a fascinating capital Port Louis – home to sights like the Champs de Mars horse track, Eureka plantation house and 18th-century Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens. Head north or west to get the warmest, driest weather – thanks to shelter from the mountains – and enjoy this true idyllic island paradise.
Where to stay
From Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita and The Oberoi Beach Resort to Shangri-La Le Toussrok and One&Only Le Saint Geran – Mauritius has no shortage of world-class ultra-luxury hotels from the world’s biggest names. The much-loved and iconic island resort LUX* Belle Mare has also just re-opened following a devastating fire. The complete refurbishment has seen a striking new design – think tropical modernism. LUX also operates a handful of properties on the island: the popular LUX Grande Gauge and LUX Le Morne.
Weather: Highs of 20°C, lows of 10°C
Flight time from UAE: 8 hours 15 minutes (to Madrid), 1 hour to Malaga and Seville
Spain’s gloriously sun-drenched Costa Del Sol has long been a haven for summer escapism. A heady melange of cultures and creeds, it has an intriguing Islamic history – ruled by the Moors for centuries – and closer to North Africa than its capital, Madrid. This wonderful region is the perfect spot for a cultural November escape: the crowds have departed, the sun is still shining, and the food scene is in full swing. Explore the sun-bleached white city of Cadiz, head inland to Granada – where Alhambra Palace shows the might and power of the ruling Arab moors, visit trendy Seville for boutique hotels and flamenco, Malaga (the hometown of Pablo Picasso) for art museums or head to glitzy Marbella for yachts and glamorous restaurants.
Where to stay
On a stretch between Malaga and Cadiz is where Sunset Hospitality Group‘s cool lifestyle hotel brand, METT Social Living, has opened its second outpost following the launch of METT Hotel & Beach Resort Bodrum in 2021. METT Marbella is a laid-back design-led social hub does what few hotels on this coast do – offering a fresh, contemporary, youthful, yet super premium escape, somewhere between the mid-range resorts and ultra-luxury types like Marbella Club Hotel. The property closes on 8 November this year, so there’s still time to book.
Temperature: 29°C high to 14°C low
Flight time from UAE: 3 hours 5 minutes
India’s Pink City is one of the most enchanting places on earth: flamboyant, historical and mesmerising, it’s the gateway to the country’s royal Rajasthan state, and as a result, known for its palaces and majestic past. Wandering Jaipur’s cacophonic streets to find beautiful sites like the pastel-pink Hawa Mahaal and the terracotta City Palace – the home of the former maharajah and royal family and a fascinating and beautiful museum. These streets hide world-class restaurants and bars – like The Johri and Baradari – (just be sure to dodge the cows, swarms of motorbikes and cycle rickshaws on the way in) while the surrounding hills and lakes are home to treasures like the Jah Mahal and the fairytale Amber Fort.
Where to stay
A peaceful hotel is essential to recharge between sightseeing in Jaipur – and luckily, the city is home to a plethora of stunning and serene properties. The grandest is the Rambagh Palace – operated by Taj Hotels and the former palace of the Maharajas of Jaipur – where you’ll find the Rajasthan Polo Club, ornate rooms and spacious lawns. Other top stays include the Rajmahal Palace – a pale-pink, Roaring Twenties-inspired royal retreat with manicured lawns and ornate suites named after illustrious guests from the hotel’s past, like Queen Elizabeth II and The Kennedy suite. For an intimate retreat in the heart of the Johri Bazaar, the five-suite The Johri is a design-led boutique hotel with one of the best restaurants in town.
Weather: Highs of 23°C, lows of 11°C
Flight time from UAE: 4 hours 55 minutes
The historic landscapes of Türkiye offer so much to travellers. For starters, the nation straddles two continents, Europe and Asia, offering a colourful and heady mix of culture and gastronomy. Istanbul is the epicentre of this vibrance and history, and it’s easy to spend three or four September days here (made even easier thanks to quick direct flights from GCC hubs). Explore Aya Sofia, the church-turned-mosque-turned-museum, Top Kapi palace, Spice Bazaar and Galata Tower to get a sense of Istanbul’s rich history. Soak up the view of the skyline, which looks particularly scenic in the light of the setting sun, on an evening cruise on the Bosphorus. And a bath at the Sulemaniye Hammam, a centuries-old public bathhouse, is an experience in itself. Outside of Istanbul, Cappadocia, with its fairy chimneys, is a dreamy destination for taking a hot air balloon ride, and is hugely popular on social media. The view includes rock-cut churches of the Byzantine Era, nestled into the valleys and the pure white travertine terraces of Pamukkale.
Where to stay
Head south to Bodrum for the last days of one of the Mediterranean’s most stylish (and still slightly underexplored) Rivieras and stunning hotels like Amanruya, Macakizi and Susona Bodrum. The season lasts until the first two weeks of November at some Bodrum hotels, with the sun still shining – so it’s the perfect time to secure a more affordable room rate.
Weather: Highs of 12°C, lows of 7°C
Flight time from UAE: 6 hours 50 minutes
London’s hotel scene is having a moment. After years of anticipation, the capital has entered – arguably – its most exciting year for hotel openings in decades. The capital’s first two billion-pound hotel developments both opened their doors in September – the Peninsula London and Raffles London at The OWO (the latter on the historic sight of the former Palace of Whitehall, Old War Rooms, former HQ of MI5 and MI6 and inspiration for 007) and One Sloane – a 30-room boutique hotel in a 19th-century Chelsea townhouse, from the team behind Paris’ impossibly chic Hotel Costes. A stay in either – or all three – of these stunning new hotels is worth a trip to the UK capital alone.